spheres of activity

It’s been fantastic to have Henry Segerman (OSU, mathematics and mathematical art) in town. He brought his Ricoh Theta spherical camera, and we loved it. Getting one of my own will really improve my ability to make searchable records of inaccessible sites; these huge images are zoomable, flyable, beautiful records of location. Not only that, if you record a talk with one, you can get the whole room.

Spherical Henry on MIT54 June 2016

If you had the stereo image, and the Ricoh Theta viewer, you could fly around this one, taken by Henry off of the edge of MIT54.

I have a couple of days to myself this weekend to get things in order for about 20 guests (scientists, engineers, and artists) and this is nuts but it’s going to be beautiful. We have three apartments, an auditorium, and a lot of energy. I’ll keep you posted.

Forward Motion at MIT

Work on practical ideas to take the Green Building at MIT energy-zero (and to do it beautifully) is rocketing forward. We should hear this month as to whether or not we’ve made the next wave of the Fuller Challenge; and if we have, we will be pleased to conduct our team interviews with our hard hats on, as we’ve already begun the work.

Arriving in about a week are a steady stream of engineers, students, artists and scientists, including senior program managers from Sandia Labs, Lockheed Martin, the Army and Navy science offices, NASA, DARPA and UTEP. Next week, before they all come in, our job is to gather as much data as we can on our site, our building, and its energy needs and usage.

Pei skyscraper at MIT.jpg

As you can see, the blank river side of the building is ripe for 20 slender stories of wind-eating. One of our most exciting teams (involving engineers from the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and wind artist Ned Kahn) is dreaming up a wall of delicate turbines, something that blends seamlessly with the structure and generates big power.

The Pei is a historical building, so anything we propose for it must make sense architecturally and be almost transparent visually; this is an intriguing challenge and our success with that will determine our chances of approval. Frankly, only the boldest and most astonishing ideas stand a chance, and conveniently that’s exactly what we plan to deliver.

The idea of using beauty like these installations to generate power is compelling.

The principles of spontaneous cooperation are holding solid for our group. People who want to work with us know it immediately, and those who aren’t involved in the work seem to also know that intuitively. It’s interesting; I’ve never seen such a clear middle before. We experience the usual sort of pushback on a daily basis (this is unavoidable when you are working with disruptive ideas) but none of it seems particularly real or solid.

MIT has been extremely generous with access and support, and in addition to an access pass for the EAPS building (and the roof) the registrar’s office has given us full use of the gorgeous, vintage auditorium in the Green (below) and their Drama department has given us enough furnishings, costumes and props to turn both the auditorium and the empty palace we’ve heisted for our students (photo of the entry at the end of this post) into warm spaces.

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Although it’s unlikely that we would need a 250-seat auditorium for our own meeting space (our working group will rarely be more than 25 people) the setting will be perfect for filming interviews, talks, and for filling the blackboards with morphing lists of topics, tasks, and daily schedules. More soon.

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Camera Obscura Santa Monica

Momentum is the thing.

I study it, I try to maintain it. I figure that if I always keep moving I always have a store of it to draw on; I have something to convert to whatever might suddenly be required to keep a ship afloat, an idea alive, plates spinning, my trains on track.

Unbelievably, summer is here and I am on my way back to MIT. I seem to be slotting myself into their system between terms; there is no real reason for this except that I fit better. There is less competition for lecture halls, a smaller quotient of frenzy in the corridors. I’m doing a lot of different things there, but the first is architecture, the second is a gathering. If you are curious,  you can read an update here.

MIT Planetary Building.jpg

The tall building circled above is one of my first targets. It was built by I.M. Pei (as were many buildings on the MIT campus) and it’s problematic, iconic. Its problems come from the wind, which is insane off of the river. Maybe wind is easy to solve these days; a bit of aero kung-fu and what was once a problem can become a food source.

I am intensely interested in the wind at the edges of things. It’s ridgy, blade-like, and really really fast.

On the Roof IV by Josh

As ever and always, though, the real fact of the matter is that I want to play with the roof. I love it up there, and the structures are badly in need of maintenance, some are no longer safe to climb. Our engineering team is strong in fabrication, and I have taken a mania to replace the radomes (the big white radar balls, the largest one seen in the photo above) on the roof with 3D-printed wonders, gorgeous glorious things.

Of course I also want to take that big old radome off and put it on the roof of the Cambridge 7 (they are game for this) and use it as my own office, treehouse, lurk space. I want to broadcast messages from it if I feel like it, or have a pirate radio station. I want to live in it like a billboard, sleep in it like a nest, make a porthole in it to see the sky. I want to float it so it spins. I want to be assumed into it, like an old-school assumption into heaven.

It’s basically just a fiberglass Tuff-Shed on a stick, and it looks like this inside, as you may know if you have followed my various Roof Adventures. Currently it’s stuffed with old radar equipment.

radar ball header

Inside The Ball low res

Sometimes the light is orange, sometimes golden, sometimes bright red inside. It’s all about the time of day, the quality of the daylight. My Roof Dreams may not happen for me, true, but if not it won’t be for lack of effort. Anyway, ANY excuse to get up on the roof of 54 is a good one.


I could say so much more; it seems that everything in my life is in flux. I have deep wells of feeling about it all, and yet my energy is spoken for. I am unsure as to how to comport myself in written form beyond crafting the two books on the way to the press for the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork project. That work alone is enough to occupy anyone; to add in a discussion of my circumstances or feelings seems impossible.

For the time being, though, all I can do is keep moving forward and doing my very best at fulfilling each task I have devised, breathed life into, and committed my energy to completing. There is nothing in my life or on my dish (as Riccardo DiSalva says) that I did not create or ask to be born.

So for now, I am head-down, working, and in that is everything; and everything must be enough. But I can see a time that is open, like the light streaming through an oculus, and I am moving toward it.

Oculus 2 MIT Chapel

a wave of metalwork is coming…

I’m on my way to Tucson soon for the last Seed Bead Summit before the publication of the upcoming Pattern Book for the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork project. In the last few months, I’ve been gathering material, illustrations, ideas and examples into a glittering pile, and we’re ready for the final push to the press.

I’ve decided to make some metal components to go with the beadwork (this is always a desire of mine, and I rarely take time to fulfill it) and while I am doing that, I am going to make another series of rings and chains. YES. RINGS AND CHAINS. I just have a few categories up in the Shop now, but as I’m sure of what I am making, I will add more.


joined fine silver chain

Some of the rings are going to be skyscraper and Dali Summerhome rings, and some meditation bowls, and those are the ones that cost the most to make, so I’m taking orders for those. I’ll make 24 skyscrapers and 24 meditation bowls. Would you like one? If so, please order it now, or send me an email asking me to reserve one for you.

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For the chains, I’ll do a variety; sculpted, invisibly cut and joined, fused, forged… I’ll have a variety to choose from. What they will all have in common is pure fine silver, no solder, and a hand-forged clasp. I think I’ll make a dozen… there might be more, but I can’t promise –  if you want a chain, please let me know now.

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sculpted chain

I appreciate your support of these pieces, as their sale will fund the exploration of the new clasps and connection elements that will accompany the Pattern Book to the press. I can’t wait to show my new ideas for closures and morphing captures.

Goldberg Skyscrapers, fine silver, Kate McKinnon

To see piles of photos of metalwork I’ve made, just Google “Kate McKinnon Chains” (or substitute rings, metal, clasps or beads for the word “chains”). I’m going to make a little of everything, and especially toggle bars. I miss my toggle bars, don’t you? No one seems to do them quite like me.

And yes, of course there will be earrings. How could there not be?
Delivery May 15 for all the metal.
hugs! and thanks for your support.


Dapped earrings by kate mckinnon, fine silver, 2010

meditation bowl earrings

excellent fine silver and sterling earrings, kate mckinnon 2010

pinned bowl earrings


from the high desert

I am in an odd place, for a suite of unusual reasons, working on the Fuller proposal, the CGB layouts, MIT buildings, wind power, solar glitter, and trying to figure out exactly which direction I’m going to go in next, when I finish the current crop of books and the paper I have in process about the folding and tucking we’ve been doing and the exhibit for the Met and Nerdstock at MIT and whatever the hell else I do between now and September.

cal tech 5

Cal Tech, roses in bloom

Cal tech ath 3

Cal Tech, Athenaeum hallway

Cal Tech Ath Mar 2016

Cal Tech, Athenaeum dining room

Cal Tech Ath 2 Mar 2016

waiters clowning

Yuk Bill and Andy

Yuk Yung, Bill McKinnon, Andy Ingersoll, Cal Tech, March 2016


cal tech lotus

Lotus flowers at Cal Tech, March 2016

Cal Tech poster hi res

poster at Cal Tech in the Robert P. Sharp lecture hall

challenger mmmm

Not my musclecar but mmmm

charles chase image by kate

Charles Chase, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works

Randys Donuts LAX

Randy’s Donuts, LAX




Always, after periods of learning and study and creation and dreaming and engineering and taking apart and putting together and giving up and starting over and never giving up and always starting over, there comes a point at which new things explode through me into Terran space.

Tucson Sky, August 2012, by unit of life Kate McKinnon

Human questions and concerns swirl around me during these times; birth is never something with sure results; each time something is laid on the table something is lost as well as gained. Most times, there is a pain of emergence, a tearing through places that you might think that nothing could go. Yet like a river, new life comes, and takes what it will for creation.

Men talk about making something out of nothing; what can they mean by this?

I surrender to the golden

Nothing is made out of nothing and what is born on this Earth tears inexorably through what came before it; sometimes this is a mountain or an ocean or a cell or a membrane of the universe; so often that it is statistically unremarkable it is through the heart or the living body, the ocean of a woman.

And we give birth in fields as often as we do in soft hospital beds; this is what we do, and sometimes it is forgotten in larger conversations such as “where do things come from?”

Also, the palo verde flowers are falling onto the ground.